I had planned on taking the mat to Iceland this past winter in order to test it out thoroughly but as usual, the best laid plans fell apart and it didnt happen in the end. I chose the mat with the trip in mind Ive not had the chance to really do it justice in terms of hardcore use but from what I have used it for Im very impressed.
The blurb from Multimat informs me that the mat is good from -45°C to +60°C which is most of the places on the planet. It has a season rating of 5 which I assume means it is built with polar expeditions in mind.
Multimat say that the Summit weighs 840g. With my el-cheapo set of Argos kitchen scales, I measured it at 875g (including compression strap). Bearing in mind the poor-quality of my scales, Id say that the PR people got it spot on! When considering the benefits, the extra few hundred grams of the Summit over other mats is very insignificant.
It is a good size as well. I opted for the regular option (1.83m long) despite being about 1.90m tall. It isnt an issue that my feet hang slightly over the end; my sleeping bag is good enough for it not to be a problem. The width is perfect. I can lie comfortably on my back and still have room to spare on either side of the mat. The thickness of the mat is where the 25/38 comes from. The mat is tapered it is 38mm thick along the torso section and 25mm thick around the feet. The pictures Ive taken make it seem as if it isnt that thick but I found it quite hard to accurately show the thickness and take the photo!
Ive only properly used the mat twice (something Im unhappy with, it deserves more!) and both times it has been great.
The first time I was sleeping in the middle of a small wood and the second time was at Bisley. Both times I was in a bivi bag with the mat inside. Although the underside is waterproof, the top side isnt and I didnt want to risk soaking the mat if it rained.
With the night in the woods, I didnt bother clearing the ground at all. It was dark by the time I arrived and in the morning it turned out I had been sleeping on a myriad of sticks, pine cones and other assorted woodland debris. Needless to say, I didnt feel any of it and had a very comfortable nights sleep.
At Bisley I ended up sleeping on grass but it was still a great nights sleep. Some other people from my shooting club saw me, came over and asked how Id slept. They seemed a bit surprised when I replied that I'd actually slept very well!
In terms of inflating the mat, it is very quick. Indoors, it takes just over a minute to inflate to a good size and then four breaths into it to fully inflate. Outside it took a bit longer and a few more breaths but it was never difficult to inflate and I never felt light headed afterwards. A really excellent feature on the Summit is the ability to lock the valve to stop air getting escaping from the sides whilst you inflate it. As long as you keep air pressure from your mouth on the valve and hold it back, no air will escape.
The valve needs to be pressed in and turned less than a third of a complete revolution in order to lock, which means that you can do it quickly and that very little air escapes when youve finished inflating it by mouth.
The Summit comes with its own fleece lined pouch which can make extraction a bit difficult but it isnt a major problem. The pouch also has a repair kit and instructions included, an invaluable addition. As mentioned earlier, there is also a compression strap to secure the Summit.
Packed down, the Summit is just too big to fit in the side pouch of an NI Patrol Pack. However, it takes up so little room when it is compacted down that you can fit it in the main compartment with ease.
All in all, it is an excellent little (but surprisingly big when inflated!) inflating mat. The technology means that it is easy to inflate which is always a bonus and it is very well constructed. I know that it will last me a long time and I very much hope to be able to test it in winter conditions sometime soon!
Although it might seem quite pricey (SRP is £91) Id say that it is definitely worth it. The space you save over a foam mat and the ease with which you can set the Summit up, not to mention the thickness, compactness and how little it weighs make the Summit a worthy investment.
Oh, it also comes with a two year guarantee and each mat is individually tested! Get one, you wont regret it!
Summit 25/38 Self Inflating Mat kindly supplied by Multimat